Oil companies face record pressure from shareholders according to Ed Crooks in the Financial Times. Concern about climate change policies has resulted in a record number of shareholder resolutions aimed at altering the balance between dividends and investment:
“Proposals include calls for ExxonMobil and Chevron, the largest US oil groups, to lift their limits on returning capital to shareholders through dividends and buybacks, rather than investing in projects that could be made unprofitable by restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.”
This is hard-headed action driven by concerns about the likely losses that would accrue if governments genuinely enforced curbs on carbon emissions necessary to prevent 2 degrees of warming. It is also action that the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) have begun to take seriously. In the past, the SEC has allowed companies to set shareholder resolutions aside, so that they never go to a vote. But in recent years, the SEC has been reluctant to do this. This year, shareholders have tabled a record 94 climate change related proposals, and the SEC has only set aside 11.